Easy Patriotic Layered Cake

It may come as a surprise, since this is the second time I’m sharing a cake recipe with you, but I don’t really like cake. Nope, I’m more of a ice cream or cookie girl. However, I’m finding that I really enjoy making cakes for other people. The golf cake was a huge success earlier this year, and this cake was too.

Added bonus, my mom LOVES white cake and vanilla frosting and this cake was going to her house. Although she may have hated me a little for leaving whole cake in her fridge for her to eat. I told her I could take the rest home and throw it out (since I won’t eat it), and I’m pretty sure her heart stopped beating for a moment.

Red White and Blue Cake_2

Turns out making those fancy colored layered cakes are not that hard. Granted, I’m far from a good baker/decorator, but with a little help from my dear friends Duncan Hines and Pillsbury, it was a cinch. In fact the hardest part was being patient during the actual baking process. I only had one cake pan, so I had to bake each layer separately. Do as I say and not as I do, and it won’t take you 2 hours to bake a 5 hour layer cake.

Red White and Blue Cake_3

It was worth every minute. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box White Cake mix
  • Vanilla Frosting (I ended up using almost 2 tubs)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 Cups Diet Sprite/Sierra Mist
  • Red and Blue Soft Gel Paste Food Color (I learned from the golf cake fiasco, and purchased some more professional colors which were AMAZING. I strongly recommending use paste/gel coloring instead of the liquid you can buy at the grocery store. I purchased the kit via the link above, but you can also buy individual colors through Hobby Lobby and Michaels)
  • 8 in cardboard cake ‘plate’ (Optional)

Red White and Blue Cake_4

Since I only wanted to use one box of cake mix, I used a 6 inch cake pan. Using the smaller cake pan allowed me to make thinner, smaller layers.

Step 1:

Add 2 egg whites to the boxed cake mix. Tip: Throw a rubber hot pad under you mixing bowls and they won’t budge while you’re whisking.

Red White and Blue Cake_5

Step 2:

Add the diet soda. The batter will foam up a bit and give a lighter textural appearance, similar to angel food cake. After baking it may have more ‘holes’ than a traditional cake, but it won’t taste like the soda. In fact, I don’t think anyone would have known, had I not told them I made it with Sierra Mist. Added bonus, it gives you a light and fluffy cake without the added calories of the oil.

Red White and Blue Cake_6

Step 3:

Set out a bowl for each layer. Then using an ice cream scoop, evenly split the batter among the bowls. I had about 4 scoops of batter in each bowl, for a 5 layer cake.

Red White and Blue Cake_7

It still looks a little lumpy here as I knew I would be whisking it more when I added the coloring.

Red White and Blue Cake_8

Step 4:

Oil and flour the cake pan and bake the white layer first. I baked each layer per the boxed instructions. Since my oven tends to run a little hotter than most, I took them out at about 12 minutes.

Red White and Blue Cake_9

Step 5:

While the white layer is cooking, color the other layers. I wanted an ombré style cake, so I colored one layer dark blue, and the next a light blue. That soft paste gel is no joke. The dark layer was just one drop of color and the light was about a quarter drop, just a little bit goes a long way with these.

Red White and Blue Cake_10

Do the same with the red.

Tip – Don’t feel like you need to buy red and pink gel coloring. I used just the one red to make both colors, you just need to vary how much color you add to the batter to make it lighter or darker. 

Red White and Blue Cake_11

I had to bake and cool each layer separately since I had only one 6 inch pan. (I wasn’t opposed to purchasing more, but they only had one left in stock at Michaels, so I was stuck with just the one pan). If you have more than one pan, this process would obviously go much faster. If you are also using just one pan, make sure you wash it and flour it between each layer so the next color doesn’t stick.

Red White and Blue Cake_15

After each layer cooled, I’d gently slice off the top with a sharp knife, dipped in flour, to make it flat. If you’re feeling ambitious, turn the remnants into cake pops! In fact I froze the bits I cut off so I can do just that.

Red White and Blue Cake_12

Red White and Blue Cake_14

 

Red White and Blue Cake_13

All the layers are done! Now that wasn’t so hard, right? Think of all the different color variations you could do.

Red White and Blue Cake_16

I put the cake in the refrigerator over night, covered with a towel. The next morning, I started assembling.

Red White and Blue Cake_17

Step 6:

I built the cake with layers of the plain vanilla frosting.

Red White and Blue Cake_18

Then used the same frosting to crumb coat the entire cake. I popped it back in the fridge while I prepped the rest of the frosting.

Red White and Blue Cake_19

To take the ‘packaging’ taste away from the store bought frosting, I almost always add vanilla. This time I used a fresh vanilla bean and added it to the frosting. If you don’t have any beans, then vanilla extract will work too. However, I implore you, please don’t waste your money buying 2 vanilla beans at the grocery store for $7, that’s ridiculous. You can purchase a bag of about 50 for $25 from Amazon. Partner up with a few of your friends and split the cost if you want. It’s a great deal. You can use them for dozens of things and I promise adding a fresh vanilla bean to your baking will make everything taste amazing. You can also use a few to make you’re own homemade vanilla or throw the empty pods into sugar for Vanilla Sugar. 

Red White and Blue Cake_20

Step 7:

Frost. I added a lot of frosting since that is my moms favorite part. Then I added a little more to the top to make a swirly design.

Red White and Blue Cake_21

I used the back of a large spoon to make a circular swirl pattern.

Red White and Blue Cake_22

Step 8:

Decorate!

Now that I had a soft swirl on the top, I wanted to add some sparkle. I’m sure there is a much fancier way to do this, but I used a standard funnel to direct the sprinkles. It worked great to keep everything exactly where I wanted it.

Red White and Blue Cake_23

Simple, and Sweet.

Red White and Blue Cake_24

It really is such an easy effect to create using store brought products. I’m sure homemade cake and frosting may taste better, but it won’t trump the accomplishment I had from making this.

I felt like a cake making ROCKSTAR!

Red White and Blue Cake_25

 

*Disclaimer: Product links are affiliate, but all opinions are my own. All items were purchased with my own money and I liked them enough to share them with you.

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DIY: Adding Texture To Garden Pots & My Valentine Front Door

Yes, I disappeared for a few days. I blame it on the Sinus headache and Taxes. I’m finally able to breathe again (thank you DayQuil/NyQuil Sinux) and my taxes are DONE!! Oh yeah, it’s been a real party over here for the past few days. I promise better posting in the coming days, but in the meantime I need to follow up on a project I told you about the other day.

A few days ago I shared with you about the cork heart that I made for my front door post.

Cork Heart Sign

In addition to the heart, I also decorated some cheap garden pots to follow the same purple/pink color theme.

Valentine Door

Valentine Door

Valentine Door

My poor front door post needs a new coat of paint. Apparently my neighbors celebrated New Years with silly string. I noticed it a few days later, all over my porch. It would have been nice if they tried to clean it up or just let me know, that stuff is like glue. I was able to get a lot of it off, but there is some permanently adhered to the post.

Valentine Door

Transforming the pot was easy.

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Cheap plastic garden pot and saucers
  • Puffy Paint
  • Spray Paint
  • Pencil

Puffy Paint Garden Pots

I purchased these plastic garden pots/saucers at Home depot for about $2 each.

Step 2:

Using the Puffy Paint, I added rows of dots on each pot. I used a pencil line as a guide which made it easier to keep the lines straight.

Puffy Paint Garden Pots

Puffy Paint Garden Pots

Step 3:

One the puffy paint had fully dried, I spray painted the smaller pot a Satin White using some leftover spray paint I had on hand. I used a glossy purple for the larger pot.

To keep the pot from sticking to the saucer I let them dry for 24 hours, then I dropped in a potted plant. Yes, I admit I’m somewhat lazy, I didn’t actually pot the plant. I put the pot in a pot. (I need to stop giving away my secrets…)

Valentine Door

I think they turned out quite well and I can see using these throughout the year.

Project Cost Breakdown (Finished Front Door Design):

Plastic Pots/Saucers (Home Depot) = $6

Cork Heart (Tutorial Here) = $0

Pink & White Plants (Already Owned) = $0

Bell Wreath (Already Owned) = $0

White Spray Paint (Already Owned) = $0

Purple Gloss Spray Paint (Home Depot) = $4

Total Project Cost: $10

Holiday Food Wrap-Up

Yesterday was a lot of fun and there was plenty of great food. However, I only took pictures of the appetizers because they were by far my favorite. I also made some dark chocolate pistachio toffee for dessert. It’s addictive and I’ll be sharing that recipe in a separate post sometime in the next week.

S’mores Marshmallow Pops

Holiday Foodie 2011

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Sugared Cranberries & Dark Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti in the background (I’ll share this recipe later as well)

Holiday Foodie 2011

Toffee fixin’s

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Chocolate Fruit Skewers

Holiday Foodie 2011

Holiday Foodie 2011

Blueberry Gingerbread

Blueberry Gingerbread

Balsamic Almonds

Balsamic Almonds

Holy Goodness!

Holiday Foodie 2011

Holiday Foodie 2011

For the decor I used my vintage blue ball jars, pinecones and Christmas lights. I absolutely loved them and am trying to figure out how to leave them all year long.

Holiday Appetizer Decor 2011

 

I don’t have any pictures right now, but as a DIY junkie I got the best gifts ever this year, a workbench for my garage and some tools. I can’t wait to set them up and starting sawing things in half, oh yeah!

Aside from the frustrating back injury, it was a great day and we all had a wonderful time.

What was the best part of your celebration this year?

Christmas Dinner Menu

This year I am hosting Christmas Dinner at my house and I’ve decided to try something new. I have planned for several new recipes and it will be more of a small plates meal. Lots of items cooked in small quantities so we can try everything without being too stuffed. Oh, let’s face it…we’ll never want to eat again..but it will be worth it!

image

 

Small Bites

Sweet & Spicy Hot Links

Artichoke Dip

Balsamic Almonds

S’more Pops

Chocolate Dipped Fruit

 

Entree

Roasted Turkey Breast

Mom’s Cranberries

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Gratin

Mashed Potatoes w/ Shallots & Thyme

Honey Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts

Sourdough Sausage Stuffing

Homemade Biscuits

Gravy

 

Dessert

Dark Chocolate Toffee

Apple Tart & Vanilla Bean Gelato

 

Photo Source

DIY Christmas Ornament 18: Paint Dipped Pinecones

I’m not sure why I leaved my favorite ornaments for last, but this is by far one of my favorites. The greatest thing about dipping pinecones in paint is that they aren’t limited to being Christmas ornaments. I can actually keep these out year round since I’ve used soft natural colors. I expect these will end up in vases and bowls throughout the house for the next 12 months.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Pinecones
  • Push Pin
  • Basic Wire Ornament Hanger
  • Various Cans of House Paint
  • Paint Stir Sticks
  • Nail/Hammer
  • Paint Tray
  • Ribbon

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 2:

Using a push pin, make a hole in the pinecone.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Thread a wire ornament hanger through the hole you just made.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 3:

Set up a paint station.

Using a nail and hammer, put several holes near the sides of the paint sticks. Balance them across the paint cans. Set a paint tray underneath the paint stick to catch any paint that drips from the pinecones.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 4:

Hold onto the wire hanger and dip the pinecone into the can of paint.

Tip: Use a soft brush or towel to brush any dirt off the pinecone before dipping it. This will minimize any stray dirt that gets into the can of paint.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Be sure to dip the pinecone slowly, holding it over the paint can for a few moments to let it drain a bit.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 5:

Hang the pinecone from the holes you put in the stir stick.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 6:

Continue dipping all the pinecones in the paint and hang to dry.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Step 7:

Allow the pinecones to drain/dry for at least 24 hours.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Step 8:

For those that you want to hang from the tree, use the hanger that is already hooked into the pinecone. For decoration, add a bow or ribbon around the hanger.

For all the rest, remove the hanger and decorate anywhere you like. The possibilities are endless.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Project Cost Breakdown (per Ornament):

Pinecones (Found – Already Owned) = $0

Push Pin (Already Owned) = $0

Basic Wire Ornament Hanger (Already Owned) = $0

Various Cans of House Paint (Already Owned) = $0

Paint Stir Sticks (Already Owned/Free from Lowes) = $0

Nail/Hammer (Already Owned) = $0

Paint Tray (Already Owned) = $0

Ribbon (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $0

 

I know that I originally said I would complete 20 ornaments; however this will be the last one of the series for this year. I have more ornaments than my little 3 foot tree will hold; and that least two will not be dry enough to share over the next few days. I hope you enjoyed the series, it’s been a blast to share it with you. If you missed any of the DIY Ornaments this year, you can see a full collection recap here.

DIY Christmas Ornament 17: Bells

Finally a bells ornament, right? No? Ok…well you get one anyway.

I’ve always had a fascination for bells around Christmas time. I think it’s the sound of bells that ignites the Christmas Spirit so it’s a shame it took me this long to come up with something for the bells.

Bell Ornament

Warning: I didn’t have a tripod while taking these pictures and the low light recorded every shake. I apologize that they are more than a bit blurry.

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • 8 medium sized bells
  • 1 thin, sturdy twig
  • Ribbon or holiday bow
  • Hot Glue/Gun
  • Scissors

Bell Ornament

Bells Ornament

Step 2:

Thread the bells onto the twig, leaving some of the twig exposed at the bottom.

Bells Ornament

Bell Ornament

Bell Ornament

Step 3:

Using hot glue to secure the bottom bell to the twig.

Bell Ornament

Cut off the excess twig at the bottom.

Bell Ornament

Step 4:

Choose a holiday bow in which to top your bell ornament.

Bell Ornament

Wrap the adhesive strip from the bow around the twig at the top of the ornament. You may need to cut the adhesive to make it fit.

Bell Ornament

(sorry so blurry) Must. Find. Tripod. Now.

Bell Ornament

Step 5:

Using scissors, trim the ribbon to show the ornament or wrap the pieces around the bells.

Attach another piece of ribbon on the top of the ornament as a hanger. I used a small piece of white ribbon and secured it with hot glue.

Bell Ornament

Project Cost Breakdown (per Ornament):

Holiday Bells (Already Owned – Originally purchased from Michaels for another project) = $0

Twig (Found Object) = $0

Holiday Ribbon (Already Owned) = $0

Hot Glue/Gun (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $0

DIY Christmas Ornament 16: Marbling

I know I’ve said it before, but this one is just too cool. With all the great holiday colors out there, the possibilities are endless. My only suggestion is to NOT use anything paint with glitter. The glitter will eventually drift to the bottom and the end result won’t look as great as you think it will. Trust me on this. Those paints also tend to be thicker which will be much harder to work with.

For this project, use a basic, inexpensive crafty paint. You could also use leftover interior paint if you have some on hand.

Marbling Ornament

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Clear Ornament
  • Craft Paint
  • Toilet Paper Tube

Marbling Ornament

Use the tube anytime you need to balance the ornament (especially important when you are taking pictures).

Remove ornament cap.

Marbling Ornament

Step 2:

Start by dripping a drop of one color into the ornament and let it drip down the side.

Marbling Ornament

Continue doing this with any additional colors you have.

Marbling Ornament

As the paint drips down the edge you want to swirl it so there are no clear parts of the ornament left. Once half the ornament is done squeeze a few drops of each color into the bottom of the ornament then swirl them around to cover the rest of the ornament.

Step 3:

Once all clear spots are covered tip the ornament upside down on the toilet paper to let any excess paint drain. Make sure to put a few paper towels under the toilet paper roll to catch the paint.

Marbling Ornament

Step 4:

Replace the ornament cap and enjoy!

This would also be a great craft to give new life to any old clear ornaments that you have. Even if they have color or designs on them, the marbling could look really awesome.

Marbling Ornament

Project Cost Breakdown (per Ornament):

Clear Ornament (Already Owned) = $0

Craft Paint (Already Owned) = $0

Toilet Paper Roll/Paper Towel (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $0

DIY Christmas Ornament 15: Paper Art

I’ll be honest, this ornament is going to be difficult to explain. It’s a play off some paper quilling art I used to do in junior high and while it isn’t hard, it is a little time intensive…and that doesn’t include the time I had to take after nearly slicing my finger off with an X-acto blade.

This is also a huge ornament that would probably work better sitting on a mantle or as wall art. Of course, you could make it smaller simply by using shorter strips, but after cutting my finger, I didn’t want to start over. Actually the original plan was to make a full flower, but the end piece was so big that I stopped it halfway, and I think it worked out pretty well.

Also, please bear with any typos. The bandage on my hand keeps hitting the ‘y’ key.

Paper Ornament

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • 2 pieces of computer paper
  • X-acto blade
  • Ruler
  • Tacky Glue or White Glue
  • Spray Adhesive/Glitter (optional)

Paper Quilling Ornament

Step 2:

Using the X-acto blade and ruler, cut the computer paper into 1/2 inch thick strips.

Paper Ornament

Step 3:

Then cut a 3 of those pieces in half.

Paper Ornament

Put a dab of tacky glue at one end and roll, securing with another dab of glue at the other end.

Paper Ornament

You will need one of these for each petal of your flower. If you choose to do more or less petals than mine, keep this in mind. Also, you can use white glue (such as Elmer’s) but it takes a bit longer to dry and the tacky will shave quite a bit of time off the project and you shouldn’t need to clamp anything for drying.

Paper Ornament

Step 4:

Take 3 strips of full length paper (not the ones you cut in half) and fold them in half.

Paper Ornament

Line them in a way you like, and then glue the sides toether.

Paper Ornament

Add the the circle you created earlier, and figure out your spacing.

Paper Ornament

Apple a little glue to the circle and then squeeze the sides in, attached the circle to the sides.

Paper Ornament

At this point it should look like this.

Paper Ornament

Cut off the excess and add any glue if any of your pieces come loose.

Paper Ornament

Make 5 of these petals.

Paper Ornament

Paper Ornament

Paper Ornament

Paper Ornament

Step 5:

Using Tacky Glue, attach all the petals together at the base as well as in between each petal.

Paper Ornament

Tip: If your flower is a little flimsy on the bottom, use a few of the remaining strips. Fold them in half and glue them along the bottom of the flower. You won’t see them, but they’ll keep the base of the flower sturdy.

Paper Ornament

Step 6:

Optional: spray with adhesive and sprinkle with glitter.

Paper Ornament

Step 7:

Add a bit of ribbon to the top and hang from the tree.

Paper Ornament

Project Cost Breakdown (per Ornament):

Computer Paper (Already Owned) = $0 [You could also use vintage pages from books, sheet music would look pretty cool too]

Tacky Glue (Already Owned) = $0

Spray Adhesive/Glitter (Already Owned) = $0

Ruler/X-Acto Blade (…bandages) (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $0

DIY Christmas Ornament 14: Raised Words

Whoa,where did the day go? Even though today was incredibly busy, it was also completely productive. I feel like I knocked out most of my to do list for this week and it feels so good.

The best news of all…my Christmas shopping is DONE!

I even finished up the ornament for today; although, I’m barely getting it posted in time.

Puffy Paint Ornament

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Clear Ornament
  • Puffy Paint
  • White Spray Paint
  • Twine/Ribbon

Puffy Paint Ornament

Step 2:

Using the puffy paint, write a holiday message on the ornament. I learned pretty quick that I’m not great at writing with puffy paint so I chose a short word.

Puffy Paint Ornament

Tip: You can also use hot glue to do this step if you don’t have puffy paint. Make sure to clean off any glue strings before you spray the ornament. Also BONUS, with hot glue, it will dry much faster and you’ll be able to spray paint much sooner.

Step 3:

After the puffy paint has dried, I sprayed the entire ornament with some satin white spray paint that I had on hand. Since my garage has terrible lighting, I don’t have any pictures. However, it made quick work of the ornament and after letting it dry overnight, I was pleased with how it turned out.

Step 4:

Add a little twine and ribbon for a fun.

Puffy Paint Ornament

 

Project Cost Breakdown (per Ornament):

Clear Ornament (Already Owned) = $0

Puffy Paint (Michaels) = $2

Satin White Spray Paint (Already Owned) = $0

Twine/Ribbon (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $2